LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2014: As anticipated, Nokia lifted the veil at Congress on a family of affordable smartphones powered by a variant of Android, the first time it has supported the OS.
The Finnish vendor announced three new smartphones targeted mainly at emerging markets – the X, X+ and XL – which Stephen Elop, EVP of Nokia Devices & Services, described as “running Android apps with Nokia’s user experience and a wide array of Microsoft services”.
While such devices have long been mooted – starting before Nokia did the deal to sell the bulk of its handset unit to Microsoft – it has been unclear if they would ever see the light of day.
Elop explained the reasoning for supporting the rival OS: “Building on the Android OS means having access to hundreds of thousands of apps right out of the box”.
However he was at pains to point out that the OS “takes people to Microsoft’s cloud not Google’s” and introduces users around the world to the US company’s services, such as Skype.
While it has widely been perceived as odd that a company set to be acquired by Microsoft is set to bring Android-powered smartphones to market, such a move would help Nokia address a weakness in Nokia’s portfolio, the Series 40 platform, which struggles in comparison with Android in emerging markets.
The X is available now for €89 while the X+ will cost €99 and will be available early in Q2. The XL, which has a larger 5-inch screen, will cost €109 and will also be available early in Q2. The phones will be launched first in emerging markets.
Elop was careful to explain how the X family is positioned below its existing Windows Phone-based Lumia range, which is targeted predominantly at western markets.
The need for care is understandable – the best seller in the Lumia range is the 520 which also happens to be the lowest priced.
“Expect to see Lumia prices come down but X will trend below,” explained Elop.
Alongside the major news about the X family, Nokia announced new affordable handsets from its existing stable – the Nokia 220 and Asha 230 – which will come on the market at €29 and €45, respectively.